Cancer Doctors Cite Risks of Drinking Alcohol

ASCO: Alcohol Linked to Several Types of Cancer

A new study finds even moderate alcohol consumption may increase your risk of certain cancers.

"The role of alcohol drinking on outcomes in patients with cancer is in its formative stages, and ASCO can play a key role by generating a research agenda".

Although heavy, long-term, drinkers were found to have the greatest risks of developing cancer, even modest alcohol consumption may increase cancer risk, researchers said in the publication.

The doctors' group is also calling for new public health initiatives to curb alcohol use, from taxes to restrictions on ads targeting minors, like the new ban on alcohol advertising on New York City's subways and buses slated to go into effect in January. The connection between rising alcohol intake and cancer has been substantially confirmed.

"If you don't drink, there's no reason to start". Moderate drinkers also face elevated risks for cancers of the voice box, female breast cancer and colorectal cancers.

It finds that approximately 3.5 percent of all cancer deaths in the US can be attributed to alcohol consumption.

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Alcohol, Dr LoConte says, "interferes with the absorption of folate, which is a critical step in the development of colon cancer".

"People typically don't associate drinking beer, wine, and hard liquor with increasing their risk of developing cancer in their lifetimes", said Bruce Johnson, M.D., FASCO, ASCO president.

The real concern is excessive and specifically binge drinking (which is defined as eight or more drinks per week or three or more drinks per day for women, or 15 or more drinks per week or four or more drinks a day for men).

"The most recent data that I have seen estimated that this was 18,200-21,300 alcohol-related deaths in the USA in 2009", co-author Noelle LoConte, a professor at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health was quoted while talking about the same. This knowledge empowers doctors "to help their patients reduce their risk of cancer".

Preventing cancer is as important as treating it, she said, adding, "We hope that this paper makes a splash with other physicians so they can get alcohol prevention on their radar, too". The formation of acetaldehyde starts when alcohol comes in contact with bacteria in the mouth, which may explain the link between alcohol and cancers of the throat, voice box and esophagus, she suggested.

"Life as an oncologist is all about teaching people about moderation", she said.

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